Sri Lanka has long been on my wish list, so I was very excited to get the opportunity to visit recently. It did not disappoint! From the very first morning, I felt as though I was in a tropical paradise and was continually surprised by the contrasts of this unique island nation. One of my first incredible experiences was an evening game drive in one of Sri Lanka’s many national parks. It was incredible to see hundreds of elephants roaming freely so close to our open top jeeps in Dambulla National Park.
Sigiriya, also known as Lion Rock, is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world and was the highlight of my trip. Rising 200 metres above the forest, this fortress complex was originally designed to form a huge stone lion. It takes about 45 minutes to climb but is well worth the effort for the views of the vast gardens below and frescoes and Mirror wall along the way. Sri Lanka is also home to eight other World Heritage Sites and I got to visit many of these amazing places.
Sri Lanka is famous for its tea and a stay in the central highlands hill country is a must. We took the train from Kandy to the mountain station of Nuwara Eliya that is 1868 metres above sea level. The journey offers stunning views of the landscape, waterfalls and of course tea plantations. You immediately notice the British colonial influence here in the hills and welcome the cooler climate. I was fortunate enough to stay at the Heritance Tea Factory. This is a stunning hotel that, like its name, is a converted tea factory where the following morning I experienced a short time as a local, complete with Sari and basket to try my hand at plucking tea leaves. It was a lot harder than it looks!
For such a small country, Sri Lanka offers great diversity. From the lush jungles with abundant wildlife, fragrant spices, ancient history and the warmth of the people, there is something to attract every type of traveller. I look forward to returning and make sure you put this country on the list for your next holiday.
Sri Lanka Travel Tips
- You cannot get the local currency outside the country. Your AUD can be changes at Colombo Airport. Make sure that you get plenty of small denominations as tipping is expected.
- Take some black socks in your daypack. These will come in handy when you have to remove your shoes at sacred sites as the ground can get extremely hot.
- Pack warmer clothing (even a spray jacket) when visiting the hill country. It is considerably cooler here.
- Try the local food. I highly recommend ‘Hoppers’ for breakfast.